Warsaw, Poland – Visegrad countries from Central Europe granted nearly 800,000 first residence permits to non-EU nationals, accounting for nearly one fourth of the EU’s total.
According to Eurostat’s People on the Move report, 3.1 million first residence permits were granted in the EU to non-EU citizens in 2017 (latest year available), with the main recipients being nationals from Ukraine (21% of the total), Syria (7%), China (6%), India and the U.S. (5% each).
While countries like Germany (535,000), the U.K. (517,000), France (254,000) or Spain (231,000) gave out some of the largest amounts of residence permits, the number one state may surprise some.
Poland is main provider of first residence permits in Europe
With a total of 680,000 first residence permits granted to non-EU nationals in 2017, Poland is the EU’s top provider. Ukrainians are by far the main recipients of Polish residence permits (585,000), followed by citizens from Belarus (43,000), Moldova (8,000), Turkey and India (over 6,000 each).
Permits were also given to a significant amount of citizens from Russia (4,500), China (4,000), Nepal (nearly 3,000) and Vietnam (2,000).
Visegrad Group grants a fourth of EU’s first residence permits
Figures from other Central European countries are far smaller. The Czech Republic granted around 58,000 first residence permits in 2017, mainly to people from Ukraine (19,000), Russia (7,000), Vietnam (5,000) and the U.S. (4,000). Interestingly, the Czech Republic also reports the highest employment rate for non-EU nationals throughout the bloc.
Hungary granted a bit more than 32,000 first residence permits that same year, once again with the top spot going to Ukrainians (8,000), followed by Chinese (3,000) and Serbs (2,500), as well as citizens from the U.S. (2,000), Iran (1,800), Turkey (1,500), Russia and India (1,000 each). Although that may not sound like much, residence permits granted in Hungary increased by over 100% in one single year, the biggest hike in the EU.
And finally, Slovakia delivered less than 14,000 first residence permits to non-EU nationals, mostly from Ukraine and Serbia (over 4,000 each), as well as Vietnamese people (more than 1,000).
In total, Visegrad Group countries, which represent around 13% of the EU’s population, granted more than 25% of all first residence permits in the EU.
V4 countries grant citizenship to over 11,000 people
The Eurostat report also contains interesting data regarding citizenship granted throughout EU countries.
In total, over 825,000 people received EU citizenship in 2017, with the main recipients being citizens from Morocco (68,000), Albania (59,000) and India (32,000). Italy was the number one provider of European citizenship (18% of total), followed by the U.K. (15%, France, Germany (14% each), Spain and Sweden (8% each).
In total, Central European countries granted citizenship to slightly more than 11,000 people : 3,500 people were granted Czech citizenship in 2017 (mostly Ukrainians, Russians and Slovaks), and 2,800 nationals received Hungarian citizenship – with Romanians, Ukrainians and Slovaks being the main recipients. Slovakia only granted citizenship to 645 people, including Ukrainians, Serbs and Czechs.
Poland once again stands out as an interesting case: while 4,200 people, mostly from Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, received Polish citizenship in 2017, over 22,000 Poles acquired citizenship from another EU country that same year.
Interestingly, Poles are the number one recipients of Irish citizenship, number 2 in Denmark, and number 3 recipients in the U.K., Germany and Belgium.
Along with Romania, Poland is the only EU country among the top 10 main recipients of EU citizenship.